The History of the Fender Princeton Amp
Part III: The Blackface and Silverface Princeton Amps 1964-1981
The Princeton amp has been around almost since Fender's inception and has remained a popular amp in Fender's amp line. Over the years the Princeton has undergone many circuit and cosmetic changes. For the purposes of our discussion we will only consider the classic Princetons made from 1946 to 1981. In this series of articles we will cover the Woody Princetons, Tweeds, Brownface, Blackface and Silverface Princetons. These are the quintessential years for the Fender Princeton that are of the most interest players and collectors. In part III I will discuss the Blackface and Silver Princeton models.
During the Blackface and Silverface years the Princeton retained many of the changes that the Brownface versions did: 15 Watts, a single 10" speaker and bias wiggle tremolo. However the sound changed considerably. All of these amps are brighter and cleaner with less overdrive. They came in two varieties: Reverb and Non-reverb. The Princeton is one of the few instances where Fender didn't make big changes in the Silverface years so Blackface and Silverface Princetons are very similar model to model. For that reason we'll simply consider them in Reverb and Non-reverb forms. One thing to note is that these amps used a variety of Utah and Jensen speakers which really affect the sound. The cabs are solid pine. During the Blackface and the early Silverface years Fender used a quality plywood for the back panels and the baffle. The later Silverface Amps used a particle board baffle and hardboard type panels. For this reason it often necessary to replace Silverface baffles.
Blackface and Silverface Princeton (Non Reverb) 1963-1979
The non-reverb Princetons where nice little amps that often get ignored since they don't have reverb which tends to allow the Blackface and Silverface series amp sound warmer and less harsh. They use the same basic circuit topology as the Reverb models except they have one less gain stage. For this reason they tend to be quieter since they have less gain and seem a bit less dynamic. Some subtle mods can really liven them up. They are clean and bright like you would expect from a Fender a have a nice light overdirve as you crank it up. Unlike most of the Reverb models they used a GZ-34 rectifier rather than a 5U4GB. This means the amp has less sag, more punch and higher voltages. The tremolo is the same as the Reverb models and the Brownface. It's stellar.
The controls are Volume, Bass, Treble, Speed, and Intensity. The trem has footswitch to turn on and off the effect.
Blackface and Silverface Princeton Reverb 1964-1981
The Princeton Reverb is prized studio, practice and small stage amp. If considered a classic Fender circuit which has spanky cleans, warmth and rich reverb and trem in small package. The sound clean and clear with a light overdrive as you push the amp. All except for one Reverb model uses the 5U4GB rectifier tube. Again it uses the same bias wiggle trem which sounds great!
The controls are Volume, Bass, Treble, Reverb, Speed, and Intensity. It has footswitch to turn on and off the reverb and tremolo.
A. Fender didn't use screen resistors. Adding 1K 2 watt units is good idea. The amp runs the 6V6s at fairly high voltages and this will extend the tube life and save the output transformer in the event of power tube failure. Plus it will sound better when cranked up.
B. The bias is non-adjustable. Adding bias pot is really helpful to getting the best sounds from the amp.
C. Adding a three prong grounded cord is a must!
D. All the filter caps are in the same can cap causing a grounding issue.
I've built a bunch of these. I often pair them with 12" speaker and tweak the circuit slightly to add a little more warmth and sparkle. They always gets rave reviews. This is truly a classic Fender.
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